Rabies: The Facts You Should Know, and How to Avoid This Disease

Rabies is a viral infection. It can be passed on to humans through the bite of an animal that has contracted the disease. It can also be transmitted if an infected animal licks a human’s open wound. Another name for rabies is hydrophobia. Many raccoons, bats, and foxes have rabies, although cats, dogs, horses, and cattle can get this disease if they are bitten by an infected animal. 



Signs of Rabies Infection
Signs of rabies appear after an incubation period of about four to eight weeks. The incubation period starts upon transmission of the disease. At first there is a mild fever, head pain, restlessness, and a loss of desire to eat. The area of the bite may itch. Days later, there may be feelings of fear, confusion, irritability, and abnormal brain function (1). In pets, they may become irritable or become hypersensitive to touch, light, and sound. Classic signs also include loss of appetite, weakness and seizures. Advancement of the disease can cause an infected person hallucinate, become delirious, or act strangely. Difficulty sleeping may become a problem, and throat spasms may occur. There may be paralysis of the muscles in the eyes and face as well. Three to 20 days after the signs of rabies manifest, the infected person may go into a coma and die. 

Preventive Measures
The best way to prevent rabies is to get vaccinated (2). Other preventive measures include periodically having your pets vaccinated against this disease, staying far away from wild animals. Protecting pets is best done by keeping out wild animals and keeping a fence to guard pets in your yard. ICE Pest Control and Wildlife Removal says you should also avoid contact with dead animals. To protect your children from rabies and resulting illness, tell them to never get close to animals outside and to immediately tell you if an animal bites them (3). Toronto wildlife removal recommends you keep your baby by your side of an animal is close by. If you see wild animals that could be carriers of rabies, contact a local wildlife removal company.

Should you or your child get bit by an animal, immediately use soap and water to cleanse the wound. Pets should be vaccinated and protected. If they do contract the disease contact a vet right away as they might need to be under observation. Get in touch with a local animal control officer and ask for help with finding the animal so it can be examined for rabies. You should also go to a doctor right away if you suspect you were infected with rabies. Treatment may involve getting an injection and 4 vaccinations that are given on different days and spaced days apart. 

Resources:
(1) http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/index.html

(2) http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/idepc/diseases/rabies/rabies.html#prevent

(3) http://www.icepest.com/wildlife-exclusion-prevention.html

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